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Thomas Lane sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights

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Thomas Lane sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights
Thomas Lane sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights 02:25

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights.

Lane was convicted in February of violating Floyd's civil rights by depriving him of medical care during his arrest. 

Federal prosecutors asked for a maximum of six-and-a-half years in prison. That's well below the 21 years Derek Chauvin received earlier this month for the same violation.

Lane will be required to pay a mandatory restitution while in prison and afterwards, will have a supervised release of two years. Lane will not be able to own firearms or weapons, and cannot contact Floyd's family.

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Paul Magnuson said that Lane's choice to not get up and provide aid to Floyd was a "violation of the law."

Lane was heard on body camera video during Floyd's arrest asking the other officers if they should turn Floyd over, and that he was concerned.

Lane pleaded guilty to the state's charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. By doing so, he agreed to three years behind bars. He is expected to be sentenced for the state's charge on Sept. 21.

Two other former officers -- J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao -- were also found guilty of depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights. Those officers are still awaiting their state trial, which has been postponed to January 2023. 

 

Family expresses disappointment with Lane's sentencing

Thomas Lane sentenced to 2.5 years for violating George Floyd's civil rights 02:17

George Floyd's family expressed their frustration over Thomas Lane's 30-month sentence outside the federal courthouse in St. Paul on Thursday.

Before Lane learned his fate, family asked Judge Paul Magnuson to hand down the maximum sentence of six-and-a-half years. 

"You've seen on the video that he did not try to reposition my brother, he did not try to administer CPR to my brother. They basically all of them together just stood there and gave my brother no option but to die," said Philonise Floyd.

Floyd's nephew Brandon Williams said he was "angry and fed up" with Judge Paul Magnuson. "It's time and time again at his discretion when he can give a maximum sentence, for some reason he chooses not to," he said.

"He didn't do the right thing," Floyd's girlfriend Courteney Ross added. "If it was anybody else that was part of a crime, they would be held accountable."

Lane is expected to surrender on Oct. 4

By WCCO Staff
 

Lawyer: Lane sentencing is "lower than what the guidelines called for"

Thomas Lane's sentence of two-and-a-half years is a downwards departure from a typical sentence, legal expert Joe Tamburino said.

"It's definitely lower than what the guidelines called for, and what the prosecutor wanted," Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, said.

Of the four officers who pinned George Floyd down during his fatal arrest in May of 2020, Tamburino said Lane was in the best position for a lighter sentence, because at the time, he asked whether the officers should turn Floyd over. Lane was also only convicted of one count of violating Floyd's civil rights compared to J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who were convicted of two.

Derek Chauvin was sentenced to more than 21 years in federal prison earlier this month by Judge Paul Magnuson. At the time, Magnuson told Chauvin that he had ruined the other officers' lives, signaling that he considered Chauvin to be the main actor and might hand down lighter sentences for the other three.

On Thursday, Magnuson recommended Lane serve his sentence in the Duluth facility, which has separate housing for inmates, who can also have jobs. 

"Obviously no one wants to go to prison, but if you had to go to prison you would pick the Duluth facility," Tamburino said. The facility is for inmates considered to be low risk and who will serve sentences of under five years.

Ultimately, Magnuson cannot decide where Lane will spend his time. With federal sentencing guidelines, he is expected to serve just over two years in prison.

By WCCO Staff
 

Thomas Lane sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights

thomas-lane-sentencing-072122-judge-magnuson.jpg
Judge Paul Magnuson Cedric Hohnstadt

Former Minneapolis Police officer Thomas Lane has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights.

Lane will be required to pay a mandatory restitution while in prison and afterwards, will have a supervised release of two years. Lane will not be able to own firearms or weapons, and cannot contact Floyd's family.

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Paul Magnuson said that Lane's choice to not get up and provide aid to Floyd was a "violation of the law."

Prosecutors asked for Lane to receive a maximum of six-and-a-half years in prison, arguing that he did not intervene to give Floyd the care he needed during his arrest in May of 2020. Despite being new to the job, prosecutors said Lane knew he had the duty to render aid, and knew how to do it. 

"More training would not have made the difference," prosecutors argued. "He just failed to act." 

The defense requested the judge reduce the sentence to 27 months, which they believed would be about the same sentence Lane will receive for his state conviction. 

Before the sentencing, Magnuson spoke directly to Lane and showed the court over 140 letters he's received on Lane's behalf. He said in his years as a judge, he's never received so many letters in support of a defendant. 

By WCCO Staff
 

Philonise Floyd to Judge: "Hold the officers accountable"

George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd said the "world watched" the torture of his brother in May of 2020. He said Lane did not intervene in one way or another. 

"I'm asking, no I'm begging, for you to hold the officers accountable," Philonise Floyd said to the judge during his victim impact statement.

Courteney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend, also gave a victim impact statement. She called Floyd a "hero" and said he helped people who needed it. 

"Mr. Lane, I don't think you're a bad guy," she said, adding that Lane is one man in a system that perpetuates hate. She told Lane that when his sentence ends, to never shy away from standing up for what's right. 

"Neither you or I started it, but we must be part of those who stop it," she told him.

Lane declined to make a statement before the sentencing. 

By WCCO Staff
 

Prosecutors push for tough sentence

Prosecutors on Thursday morning argued that Thomas Lane should not get a light sentence because they say he has not taken responsibility for his actions.

"Lane knew the correct actions to save Floyd's life," but did not act on it, prosecutors said.

Judge Paul Magnuson, on the other hand, said Lane had a "minimal role" in the incident and has taken that into account for his sentencing. 

By WCCO Staff
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